Child care centers hope for limit increase as they prepare for more kids, state reopening

Posted at 4:46 PM, May 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-15 19:16:37-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- As most of Central Virginia begins the first phase of a gradual reopening plan, many parents, who are non-essential workers, are trying to figure out what to do with their kids when they clock back in.

Child care centers like Primrose School at Atlee Commons and Child Time in Midlothian tell CBS 6 they have already started to see increased interest.

"We’ve already had a lot of families reach out to us and say that they would like to start coming back," said Claire Habel, Director at Primrose School of Atlee Commons.

"Parents are eager to keep their kids at home. They want to do the right thing for their family, but they’re also ready to get back to a normal routine," said Leigh Mertins, Director at Childtime in Midlothian.

Kim Hulcher with the Virginia Child Care Association says they have been in close contact with Governor Northam and his team to see how child care centers can better operate under Phase One of reopening.

"Up until this point, we have been serving essential families and beginning on the 15th we expect there to be nonessential workforce going back to work and needing child care. So, the Virginia Child Care Association has sent a letter of request to the Governor’s Office."

The letter asks for three things, but the one day care workers see as most important involves increasing the number of children and teachers allowed in each daycare group.

Right now, the limit is 10 per room. Day care centers hope to increase it to 15.

"We’re about busting at the seams. If we are to start accepting them back and we have to maintain that group size it could be a challenge," said Habel.

Some day cares say they may end up having to turn people away if that number were to stay the same.

"I still have one classroom that doesn’t have any children in it. Of course the ones that are already registered would get the first priority, but if somebody needed us then I would absolutely be willing to take them on if I have the space," said Mertins.

By state law, child care centers are required to have a proper teacher to student ratio, a mandate that has also been adjusted with an executive order.

Mertins says some of her staff volunteered to not come into work due to personal reasons with COVID-19.

"Were going to wait and see and watch how the children come back. I have enough staff that work… some work part time and they should be working full time. So, I have a staff working full time hours before I start bringing those furloughed employees back,” said Mertins.

For right now, child care centers are continuing to make sure their environments are clean and ready for kids to return.

"We as a childcare setting, will do everything we can to make the process as safe as possible. We are following every precaution above and beyond," added Habel.

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